Determine Your Skin Tone & Match Your Makeup

There are many different approaches to skin care and protection, but no matter your daily routine or your preferred products, taking care of your skin and protecting it from outside exposure is essential to your overall health and wellness. Our skin can tell us a lot about our body and provide important information for long and short-term care, and it goes further than physical health, as well. 

When we feel confident and comfortable in our skin, it can be easier to face the challenges of the day ahead. That can mean finding new skincare products you love, enjoying fresh foods and long walks, or even picking up new clothes for a fun and flattering wardrobe. And when it comes to the colors that work best, this guide to understanding your skin tone and skin undertone can be very helpful. 

Our team here at Journ wants to make it as easy as possible to find the looks you love and match your makeup with ease. Once you know your skin tone, you’ll be able to walk up to any beauty counter and choose your perfect match, or even peruse a selection of foundations online and know immediately which ones will work for you. Here’s what you’ll want to know about skin tone and skin undertone to get started. 

Skin Tone and Skin Undertone: A Guide

There are two important factors to consider when it comes to determining which colors and shades look best on you: skin tone and skin undertone. These two shades will work together to create the look you see in the mirror every day, and each has an impact on the colors you keep in your wardrobe and the makeup palettes you might find yourself reaching for. 

To start, skin tone is the surface color of your skin. There is a wide range of skin tones, and they can be influenced by your environment as well, specifically with sun exposure which can lead to tanning. The shade of your skin will be determined by the amount of melanin you produce, which is a pigment designed to protect you from excessive sun exposure

Skin undertone, however, is the color below the surface of the skin. There are three main skin undertones—warm (which also includes olive undertones), cool, and neutral—and they will not vary depending on exposure or environmental factors. It is the combination of skin tone and skin undertone that we will want to consider when picking out shades of makeup, clothing, and even jewelry. 

How to Determine Your Skin Tone

Determining skin tone is a little simpler than determining skin undertone. Essentially, this can be done by looking alone. Here are a few steps you’ll want to keep in mind when establishing your skin tone

Wash Your Face

A clean, bare face will give you the best idea of your skin tone. Our skin can accumulate dirt and oils from the day, so it’s a good idea to wash your face even if you aren’t wearing any products. Allow a quarter of an hour to pass so any inflammation or discoloration has the chance to dissipate before trying to match colors. 

Always Use Natural Light

Anyone who has ever been under the harsh lights of a dressing room knows that fluorescent lighting isn’t very flattering—and it isn’t very helpful, either. 

The best way to determine your true skin tone is with natural light. It provides insight into your skin’s true tone and helps you match that dewy, youthful complexion properly, so you can always find the best shades for your needs. And while you’re at it, consider snapping a few pictures. Nothing flatters like golden hour. 

How to Determine Your Skin Undertone

When it comes to skin undertone, there are a few different approaches that you’ll want to try. Here are some of the easiest ways to determine if you have neutral, warm, or cool skin tones, so you can find the best makeup fit for your needs

Look at Your Veins

Take a quick peek down at the inside of your wrist. The skin at our wrists is thinner than most of the body, which means it’s one of the best places to see your veins, and those veins can tell us a lot about our skin undertone

If your veins appear bluish or purple, that’s a good indication you have cool skin undertones. Warm skin tones present as greenish. If they’re particularly green, you might also have olive skin. If you notice both blue and green, or you can’t quite make out the color of your veins, you likely have a neutral skin tone

Try the Jewelry Test

The jewelry test is one of the most effective ways to determine if you have warm, cool, or neutral undertones, and you already have all the tools you need right at home. Simply look at what colors of jewelry you purchase and wear most often. Silver jewelry is flattering on individuals with cooler undertones, and people with warm tones are more likely to reach for gold jewelry. If they look equally good on your skin, you have a neutral undertone

Check Your Wardrobe

The color palettes that make up your wardrobe can also provide helpful insight into what your skin’s undertone might be. Just look at your preferred neutrals—this can even be done with a plain sheet of white paper! True neutral colors, like whites and blacks, are more likely to be flattering on those with cool undertones. If you often reach for neutrals that are slightly off from the true color, like browns, grays, creams, or beige, that can indicate your undertone is warm, instead. 

A white shirt on a person with cool undertones will give them a soft pink undertone or a peach complexion and make them look healthy and youthful, but it can add a yellow hue to someone with a warm undertone. If true neutrals and off-neutrals both look equally good on you and you really can’t find your best colors, you probably have neutral skin. You can also perform this test with a white piece of paper

Look at Your Sun Response

Keeping our skin protected and safe from excess sun exposure is essential to our overall health and wellness, but sun exposure can also provide important insight into our undertones and skin’s needs, as well. 

One of the easier ways to determine if you have a warm or cool undertone is to look at how your skin reacts to the sun. If your skin burns quickly, that means your undertone is cool, but if you tan instead, you have a warm undertone. Skin that burns and then fades to a tan is likely neutral in undertone. 

Regardless of whether you have a warm or cool undertone, it is important to wear protective layers and use sunscreen, to prevent health complications and to keep your skin healthy for a long time to come. 

Consider Your Features

It’s important to note that individuals with any skin type can have any undertone. There are a few features that are more common to each undertone, however. You’ll want to consider the shades of your hair and eyes when determining which makeup colors and shades are best for both your skin tone and your skin undertone

Most commonly, those who have dark or rich hair color and eye color are more likely to have a warm undertone. That means shades like dark brown, deep purple, emerald, or navy will be flattering on brown eyes and black or mahogany hair. If your hair and eyes are lighter or more neutral—think gray or light blue eyes or strawberry blonde hair—you’re more likely to have a lighter undertone to your skin, though you may have neutral tones as well. 

That said, this isn’t a hard and fast rule. Someone with a deep skin tone can have cool undertones, someone with a pale skin tone can have warm undertones, and medium skin can go either way as well. 

Our hair and eye color can both vary depending on the time of year, exposure to the sun, and even the clothing we’re wearing at the time, so it’s a good idea to consider all of these different features together when matching your makeup

Finding Your Skin Tone for Your Perfect Match

Knowing how to recognize and balance your skin tone and skin undertone can be incredibly helpful for picking out your next makeup product or for finding clothing you love for every season. Confidence and comfort in our skin can lead to greater overall health and can make it easier to find peace, joy, and creativity no matter where our journey may take us. 

At Journ, you’ll find easy, quality skincare that allows you to recharge and take a moment of peace with your body and yourself. Explore our guide for simplifying your routine and begin crafting your unique skincare routine with support from our team. Reach out to us at with any questions you may have, too! 


All About Sunscreen | Skin Cancer Foundation 

Why Are My Eyes Changing Color? | American Academy of Ophthalmology 

Here’s How You Can Add Neutral Colors to Your Wardrobe | Vogue